Throwback Thursday: Upstart’s jumpstart

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Ralph Evans returned to his Connecticut home a few days removed from a trip to Gulfstream Park in South Florida five years ago “over the moon.”

Evans found himself in such a state after Upstart, a colt he bought for $130,000 at Saratoga and considered a “fluke,” after the son of Flatter won the Grade 2 Lamholm South Holy Bull Stakes to put his name in the mix for the 2015 Kentucky Derby. The Holy Bull, which anchors a strong card Saturday at Gulfstream, was Upstart’s first graded stakes win following placings in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Grade 1 Champagne at the end of his 2-year-old season.

The Holy Bull also put Evans in an enviable position – with a talented 3-year-old on the rise amidst feelings of Derby Fever from those without such a holding – and he soaked in the feeling. We wrote about it in our piece “Evans enjoys the ride with his ‘fluke’ ” published four days after the Holy Bull, Jan. 28, 2015.

“Last year was a year when I bought three horses, which is probably my outside limit,” Evans said. “I would say I average two. So this is an immensely unique, or flukey, when you consider all the horses that get bought for lots more money and/or the owners that spend a lot more money and buy a lot more horses, so I feel very, very, I’m not going to say lucky because everybody says that. Truly this is, as far as I’m concerned, very, very unique. I hate to use the word, but it is a fluke. He’s a fluke.

“I understand the vicissitudes of the game. When there are 30 or 40,000 yearlings a year and you buy two or three, it’s pretty much a longshot you’re going to get anywhere, so I take the good with the bad very well.”

Upstart provided a few more good moments after the Holy Bull, finishing second in both the Grade 2 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth and Grade 1 Besilu Stables Florida Derby to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

Upstart wound up 18th in Louisville but redeemed himself the rest of his career with a victory in the Grade 3 Razorback at Oaklawn Park and three Grade 1 placings before taking up a spot in the stud barn at Airdrie Stud in Midway, Ky.


Check out our story, Evans enjoys the ride with his ‘fluke’